The Washington Wizards are discussing a five-year, $80 million deal with 2011 top overall pick John Wall. The deal would be the first max contract the Wizards have given out since former star Gilbert Arenas, and Wizards fans saw how that worked out. While Wall's been solid in his first three years in D.C., he hasn't been spectacular, only flashing consistent all-star play during the final two months of last season. Equipped with speed, quickness and athleticism, the 22-year-old Wall is still a work in progress. And while tattoos aren't necessarily the reason that skeptics withhold their blessings on such a deal, the fact that he hasn't made an all-star team or led his club to a winning record begs the question: Is John Wall worth the max contract? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate the question.
Riley: Absolutely. Fortunately for Wall, being the only true semblance of a headliner on this team should give him the max by default. Who else on the club is deserved of such a deal and who would the Wizards replace Wall with should they try to lowball him and negotiations turn ugly? The final two months of the 2012 season was enough for me to see the potential in Wall starting to come to fruition. With his jump shot falling over the months of March and April, Wall was unguardable and unreal, averaging 23 points and nearly eight assists with five rebounds over the final two months. If that's the "new" Wall that the NBA is going to get going forward then he's worth every penny.
Green: Just because he's the most talented player on one of the worst teams in the league shouldn't guarantee him a max deal. Washington has been in the lottery every year since Wall's arrival and I can easily think of a handful of point guards on winning teams that arguably are better than Wall but would be making less should the Wizard get his extension. Washington stinks for a reason and it's because the ownership gives out crazy deals like this proposed one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan and supporter of Wall. But he has a lot more to prove and some of that money he’ll be receiving could go to adding valuable teammates to get this team to winning form.
Riley: No matter how you slice it it's clear that Wall is a top talent in this league. The fact that Washington went 4-28 with him out but had a winning record at one point during last season with him at the helm proves how much he's worth to this team. He may not fall in the category of other players who are currently getting max deals from their teams but he's certainly worth it to Washington. Again, if he's truly arrived like he showed during parts of last year then it's a good deal for the team. Keep in mind that many projected him to break out last season before his knee injury set him back at the start of the year. With him coming back from this summer healthy and having used his time inside USA Olympic minicamp well, he should be ready and willing to tear the competition apart next season.
Green: I'm big on paying for production, not potential. I just can't take his last two months of NBA action and extrapolate that into believing he's worth the maximum. And even one season of anything close to what he did over the last two months still wouldn't be enough for me. Now, two seasons of 23 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds would make a believer out of anyone, but paying athletes big dollars after stellar season performances with contract negotiations looming is always risky business. And it's usually a business the Wizards come up short in. I want the kid to get paid. I just hope they keep enough money around to give him some help so that the Wizards can actually win some games for a change. No one wants to see overpaid losers.